We investigated the interaction between relaxation and contraction for remote, ipsilateral muscles of the hand and foot (wrist extensor/ankle dorsiflexor). Subjects sat in an armchair and were able to freely move their right hand and foot. They performed eight tasks: (1) wrist extension from a flexed (relaxed) position, (2) ankle dorsiflexion from a plantarflexed (relaxed) position, (3) wrist relaxation from an extended position, (4) ankle relaxation from a moderately dorsiflexed position. The remaining tasks involved (5) simultaneous performance of tasks 1 and 2, (6) 3 and 4, (7) 1 and 4, and (8) 2 and 3. Subjects performed each task as fast as possible after hearing a start signal. They were instructed not to activate antagonistic muscles in the tasks involving relaxation. When contraction of the wrist flexor/ankle dorsiflexor was concurrent with relaxation of the ipsilateral limb (ankle dorsiflexor/wrist extensor), the reaction time of contraction as observed in electromyography (EMG) activities in the wrist extensor/ankle dorsiflexor became longer and the EMG activities became smaller. Our findings suggest that muscle relaxation in one limb interferes with smooth movement of muscle contraction in the ipsilateral limb.
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